Who Gets the Privilege of Paying for HBO Now?

As excited as I am about the Apple watch (which is to say, not that excited; I’d prefer to get an ordinary, cheap watch and buy one of those Fitbit watchband pouches off Etsy so I can track the time and my steps simultaneously) the big news I’m following after yesterday’s Apple Event has to do with everyone’s favorite aspirational television network, HBO.

HBO is in an interesting position because its users have literally been begging HBO to let them access the network legally for years. It’s like HBO is the marijuana of TV networks; a lot of people pirate Game of Thrones, but it doesn’t make them bad people, it just means they like to relax a little on a Sunday night. Meanwhile, the people who watch HBO shows illegally would like nothing more than to be able to access HBO free and clear, in exchange for good hard cash money. It could be a win-win for everybody. Make HBO use legal in your state!

Which meant I was very excited to learn that HBO was announcing HBO Now. At $14.99 a month, users can “get instant access to every episode of every season of HBO’s award-winning original shows and Hollywood blockbusters.” It appears to be pay-by-the-month, too, which means you can cancel your subscription for the nine months out of the year Game of Thrones isn’t on.

But there is, of course, a catch: you can only get HBO Now on “your Apple TV or iOS device.”

This is where I start to get confused.

I mean, on the surface, it’s not confusing at all. I fully understand the concept of “your Apple TV or iOS device.” What I don’t understand is why my Mac OS device doesn’t equally qualify. I own an Apple product, and I have iTunes. I would like to be able to buy the HBO Now app and watch HBO on my 11-inch Macbook Air.

I get that they’re trying to keep HBO Now within the Apple family, and if they released HBO shows on iTunes it would mean that any old Windows user — or worse, a Linux user — could watch Veep on their inferior device. So they’re going to have an HBO Now app instead, and keep the shows within the app interface. But why are they leaving Macbooks and Apple computers out of this? Why can’t we download the same app as iPad and iPhone users? Why can’t Mac OS Timberlion, or whatever the latest version is called, run this app? Why would anyone want to watch HBO on a two-inch high iPhone screen when they could watch it on all eleven inches of their own personal Macbook?

It gets even more confusing when you hear reports from sources like Engadget and The Verge that HBO Now is designed to work on web browsers, but you have to get a subscription first, and — as The Verge clarifies — “You can subscribe to HBO Now directly from an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.”

So maybe what I need to do is buy a super-cheap iPhone, a really old model, poke at it long enough to download the HBO Now app, and then finally get to watch HBO legally, in-browser, via my Macbook.

Because I want to pay for HBO. You have no idea how badly I want to pay for HBO.

Photo credit: Bradley Gordon (cropped)

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